Carole Nash encouraged me to think critically

By Katie Rorrer Brown ('95)

Carole Nash

The JMU professor who has made a lasting impact on my life is Carole Nash, professor of anthropology.

In the summer of 1993, I took my first anthropology class. I'm not even sure I knew what anthropology meant. I just knew that the class met at noon, and I didn't want to get up any earlier. I was so amazed in that class and went home at the end of the summer to tell my parents I was changing my major to anthropology.

That fall semester, I took Carole Nash’s Intro to  Archaeology class. We used the textbook Frauds, Myths and Mysteries, which had a cover featuring a giant moai statue from Easter Island. That textbook began my fascination with Easter Island. I took several other classes that Carole taught, and I even did an independent study with her during my senior year.

Carole always took time to work with me on my class papers. She encouraged me to think more critically and to work on my word choice. Carole gave me the confidence to apply to grad schools, and I eventually went to the University of Oregon and earned a master’s degree in anthropology. I was so thrilled to send her a postcard from Easter Island, where I worked as an archaeologist in the fall of 1997.

Carole’s enthusiasm for archaeology and for learning in general, her sense of humor and encouraging nature truly helped me form who I am today. Thank you, Carole!

About the professor
Geographic science professor Carole Nash is director of the Shenandoah National Park Environmental Archaeology Program. She has 30 years experience in cultural resource management with the National Park Service, National Forest Service, Commonwealth of Virginia and with various private firms. She earned her Ph.D. in anthropology from Catholic University of America. Learn more about the professor at

Read a Madison feature about Nash's work.

About the author
Kathryn “Katie” Rorrer Brown (’95) is a veteran of the JMU Archaeology Field School at Montpelier. She lives in Holly Springs, N.C., and teaches 8th-grade science at Zebulon Gifted and Talented Magnet Middle School.